Docter Sports Optics Classic 3-10x40mm Riflescope
By Chuck Hawks and Bob Fleck
After the end of WW II and the partitioning of Germany, the world famous Carl Zeiss Jena optical plant was in the Russian sector that became East Germany. Many leading employees fled the Communists and the present Zeiss Company was reestablished in West Germany. Throughout the Cold War years there were two optical manufacturers using the Zeiss name, the original in East Germany (with plants in Jena and Eisfeld) and the new company in West Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the West German Zeiss Company gained sole rights to the name (no surprise there) and the Carl Zeiss Jena firm was prohibited from using the Zeiss name. In 1991, Bernard Docter acquired the Jenoptik Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH plant in Eisfeld, which is how Docter scopes got their name. The company subsequently fell on hard times, changed hands, and today it is the Analytik Jena Group. The manufacturing facility for riflescopes, binoculars and spotting scopes is still in Eisfeld, Germany. Their web site is: www.docter-germany.com
The scope that is the subject of this review is a Docter Classic sport 3-10x40mm model. It boasts brilliant optics, high twilight efficiency, full multi-coatings and its reticle remains the same size as the magnification is changed. It is built on a one-piece, aircraft aluminum main tube and is shockproof as well as purged, nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed to prevent fogging. Key parts are brass or stainless steel, excellent but heavy materials. Other notable features include accurate ¼ MOA windage and elevation adjustments and a rubber covered European fast focus ring for the ocular. There are three lenses in the objective to minimize color fringing. Lens caps are supplied. The scope comes with a 5-year parts and labor warrantee and an additional 25-year warrantee on materials. Docter scopes are now distributed in the US by Merkel USA (www.merkel-usa.com).
The finish is a hard anodized matte black. There is a Docter "owl" logo on the left side of the windage and elevation turret and the legends, "3-10x40," "Docter," and "Made in Germany" are printed in light grey on top of the objective bell. That is it for adornment.
The rubber covered zoom ring is unusually fat and wide, easy to grip, and requires about 1/3 of a turn to go from 3x to 10x. The magnification scale at the back of the zoom ring is sloped toward the shooter's eye for ease of use.
The reticle is a good copy of the standard Leupold Duplex and remains centered at all times. A German #4 reticle is also available. The windage and elevation adjustments require the use of a coin or something similar. This is a bit less handy when sighting-in than fingertip adjustments, but allows lower turret caps.
Here are the technical specifications for our Docter Classic 3-10x40mm riflescope.
As you can see, this Docter Optic is not an inexpensive scope, being roughly comparable in price to a Carl Zeiss Conquest or a Nikon Monarch. Neither is it a lightweight; at one pound 2.8 ounces it is one of the heavier scopes in its class.
Like other German/Austrian riflescopes, the Docter's biggest selling point is its optical quality. We found that our Docter 3-10x40mm scope provided sharp, clear, contrasty views of the target with little falloff at the edges. Lens flare is well suppressed and optical aberrations are minimal. Observing point sources of light at night revealed almost no coma effect at the edge of the field of view. (This test was done at 5x.) All in all, very good optical quality.
We mounted the Docter scope on Bob's pre-'64 Winchester Model 100 rifle using the period Bushnell bases and rings already installed on the rifle. Our test shooting was accomplished using this .308 rifle at the Izaak Walton rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon.
After preliminary bore sighting, we got "on the paper" at 25 yards and then zeroed the rifle at 100 yards. This revealed that the windage and elevation adjustments were both accurate and precise. The graduated scales around the coin-slot adjustment screws are resetable. Docter Sport Optic does not give an adjustment range specification for this scope, so we had to work it out for ourselves. We counted approximately 80 (1/4 MOA) clicks per full 360 degree revolution of the elevation adjustment knob and there are three complete turns from bottom to the top of the adjustment range. Thus, we concluded that the adjustment range is about 240 clicks (¼ minutes of angle), or 60 MOA.
The recoil of the .308 Winchester rifle caused no distress to the scope, nor did we expect any. This is a rugged looking (and feeling) scope that inspires trust in the user. If you are in the market for German optics at a fair price, check out Analytik Jena's Docter Sport Optic line. Now that they are distributed by Merkel USA, they seem poised to give Zeiss and Kahles some stiff competition in the US marketplace.
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